What Are The Biggest Challenges In A Trucking Accident Claim?
You are going up against very large, very well-funded entities, whether it be the trucking company or the insurance company. The size and resources of the adversary are always one thing that people are sometimes surprised by. Most of the time, when people hire a lawyer, they should feel like their only job is to get better physically or recover from grief or whatever the case may be that the client should be able to focus on getting better and healing from a wreck.
Let the attorney handle all of the legal maneuvering and strategy and certainly the client should be kept informed of what is going on. But at least in our office, we hope that the client takes all of those issues with insurance and dealing with bills and set those on our desk so that we can focus on healing whether it be physically, emotionally or psychologically.
What sets me apart is that for ten years, before starting my own firm, I did primary defense work. As a result or during that for years, a significant portion of my work was defending trucking companies and defending truck drivers. For the last six years when I was on the defense side, the vast majority of my cases were trucking cases. I have the inside knowledge of how these companies work, how the insurance carriers perceive not only the victims of truck wrecks but their own companies, their own drivers. As I have been on the other side, I am able to be an effective advocate for victims of truck wrecks.
Should I Accept The First Offer Made By An Insurance Company?
Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, if a trucking company or an insurance carrier makes an offer, at that point, you are not compelled to do anything. I would probably recommend at that point that if somebody has made an offer that they call and just ask a lawyer whether or not the offer seems fair, whether or not the offer is reasonable based on all the facts and circumstances. I probably get a few calls a week where somebody is telling me that they have had an offer from an insurance company and I will gladly tell them based on the information that I have, whether that seems to be a fair and reasonable settlement offer or whether the insurance company is trying to get one past them.
Dealing With A Fatality In A Trucking Accident
Obviously, the survivors of someone that has passed away following a truck wreck, they are in an emotionally devastated state. Many times, the trucking companies will call and offer to pay for funeral expenses and ask if there is anything that the family needs, any reasonable expenses associated with the funeral or transportation for the family members to the funeral or those types of things. Certainly, that is done to develop a connection with the family. Many times, the family is in an emotionally devastated state and is not able to process what is going on! They develop an open line of communication with the trucking company and that is just one of the tactics that trucking companies use to connect with the victims of a truck wreck very shortly after it occurs.
Additional Information About Trucking Accident Claims
One thing to discuss about truck accidents or truck wrecks is the driver’s physical qualifications to drive a truck and the issue of obstructive sleep apnea in truck drivers. There is very compelling data that suggests that an extraordinarily high percentage of truck drivers have obstructive sleep apnea, commonly the acronym is OSA. Sleep apnea is simply pauses in breathing while you are sleeping. One symptom is heavy or loud snoring. The connection between obstructive sleep apnea and driver fatigue is one that is very significant in the trucking industry. There is no mandate that companies screen or test their drivers for obstructive sleep apnea, but my firm has spoken on this issue to try to get the federal regulations to mandate some type of testing or screening for sleep apnea.
In a recent case that we had, we had a driver who was very large, had a body mass index of well over fifty, which is a strong indicator that a person has sleep apnea. In this case, the driver had been identified as a person that should be examined for sleep apnea but he just went to another doctor the next time around, never got tested and was put back on the road. If the federal government mandates some sort of testing by these trucking companies, that driver either would have gotten treated or would not have been able to drive. In any discussion regarding trucking or truck accidents or truck drivers, particularly as it relates to driver fatigue, the issue of obstructive sleep apnea is critical.
In our case, we hired a sleep expert from Harvard to discuss all of the physical factors of this particular driver and he concluded that in fact the driver had obstructive sleep apnea and that he had fallen asleep causing a fatality in a multi-vehicle wreck.
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